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Indepth Arts News:

"Design for Children: Playgrounds by Aldo van Eyck and presentation of Furniture and Toys"
2002-06-14 until 2002-09-08
Stedelijk Museum
Amsterdam, , NL

Withe this exhibition the Stedelijk Museum devotes attention to a subject until now too little investigated: designing for children. After the Second World War this aspect of modern design experienced an explosive growth in interest. In addition to the design in children's furniture and toys, this was expressed in the construction of playgrounds in urban areas. In Amsterdam, until 1978 the playgrounds were designed by the renowned architect Aldo van Eyck.

Architect Aldo van Eyck (1918-1999) became world-famous for his design of the Municipal Orphanage in Amsterdam. The roughly 730 playgrounds that the designed for the city between 1947 and 1978 have been rather forgotten, but are at least as important and interesting a part of his oeuvre. They illustrate his vision on the use of the city, in which unsightly oddments of urban space were transformed into usable and architecturally interesting playgrounds, including the integration of existing elements such as walls and window patterns. Through their emphatic presence in visual power and number, these places were an important element of the urban scene. Recent research in Amsterdam's Municipal Archive has turned up photographs of the situation in a number of these residual spaces before and after the intervention, which make the impact of Van Eyck's work very clear. These photographs are allocated an important place in the exhibition, but the sources of inspiration for Van Eyck and his contemporaries (among them CoBrA) will also be given their place. In addition, attention will be given to the reception of the playgrounds in the city and to the design and production of the playground equipment which over the years has become so familiar to all residents of The Netherlands. Play equipment from the Boer company, which still has some of Van Eyck's designs (including chutes, tumbling bars and a hemispheric jungle gym) in production, and other firms, will be erected in the Museum garden - to be seen and used!

This portion of the double exhibition Design for Children is assembled in cooperation with the Canadian architecture historian and theorist Liane Lefaivre (Technical University of Delft), who previously researched Van Eyck's playgrounds in Amsterdam. She is also a contributor to the publication which the Stedelijk is bringing out in cooperation with NAi Publishers. Other authors will be the curator Ingeborg de Roode, Francis Strauven, Lia Karsten, Anja Novak and Erik Schmitz. Title: Aldo van Eyck. Playgrounds. (ISBN 90-5662-249-8), price Euro 24,

Design for Children at Home: Furniture and Toys

Starting in the 1950s, many designers produced special furniture for children. Initially much of it was from wood, but there were also many stacking plastic pieces. As part of the interest in child development, toys also received attention galore. The Dutch Good Living Foundation promoted 'better' toys, often made of wood and coming from Scandinavia. The ideas of Maria Montessori were also making themselves felt in this era. She combined playing and learning in her educational method, which spawned a whole new generation of objects. Famous designers also regularly ventured into designing toys. The American furniture designer Charles Eames and the Italian industrial designer Enzo Mari are but two examples.

Furniture and toys from the collections of the Stedelijk and other museums, private collections and institutions will be on display in the exhibition, showing the development from the 1950s onward. The emphasis lies on objects from the 1950s and '60s, but recent designs will also have a prominent place. For instance, the exhibition will be the premiere for the new 'Raffi' line by designer Maarten Vrolijk, and the recent 'Live and Play' brand is also included in the exhibition. Amsterdam's Gallery Binnen will be mounting a sales exhibition of recent children's furniture which will coincide in part with Design for Children.

Zeedijk, after the construction of the playground,
designed by Aldo van Eyck, 1955.
Wallpainting by Joost van Roojen, 1958.
(Photo's: Gemeentearchief Amsterdam)

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